04/16/2010 - Questions and Answers

Menopause or Thyroid? - What is causing my Weight Gain?

By: Novoviva webmaster

Menopause or Thyroid?


Thyroid problems run in my family, so I get tested from time to time. Now I find I'm gaining weight, along with signs of the menopause. Which test should I have to see if my thyroid is to blame? I'm 50, and pretty healthy.


Because patients with an under active thyroid tend to have a very low basal metabolic rate, one of the most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain and difficulty losing extra weight. Whilst you inform that thyroid problems run in your family, other symptoms as well as weight gain are usually present with an under active thyroid. These other symptoms include constipation, dry skin, and sensitivity to the cold.

The However, you also mention your age and that you are menopausal, so this could perhaps be the reason for your weight gain. We can help you understand both conditions but you would really be best advised to consult your treating physician, who knows you and your medical history and can arrange thyroid blood tests to out rule a thyroid condition. However, many women who test within the 'normal' range of traditional medical standards still need thyroid support. Their TSH may be only slightly elevated, but enough so that it influences their metabolism and causes weight gain. For further information please see link below "The thyroid and weight gain".

Thyroid and weight gain

The thyroid gland's role in the body is very similar to cruise control in the car. Cruise control keeps a car running at a constant steady speed. The thyroid gland's role in the body is very similar to cruise control in the car. The thyroid hormone can be called the cruise control for the body. Cruise control keeps a car running at a constant steady speed. When we do not want to worry about having to keep a steady foot on the accelerator we turn on cruise control and the car maintains a normal speed without any effort. Thyroid hormone keeps the rest of the body working at the right speed. If thyroid hormone levels decrease, cells throughout the rest of the body decrease in activity. As a result the cells need less energy and thus more energy is available to be stored and the weight increases even though the appetite decreases. Less heat is produced, the person becomes cold, and the sweat glands do not keep the skin moist anymore. The brain just wants to sleep all the time. The heart beats slower. The bowels become sluggish. Everything slows up. 

Menopause and weight gain

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the ovaries cease to produce an egg cell every four weeks. (The average age of menopause onset is 51 though can commence far earlier - (hysterectomy which is surgical menopause) or later ) Menstruation ceases and the woman is no longer able to bear children. There is a change in the balance of sex hormones in the body which can cause hot flushes, palpitations, dryness of the mucous membrane lining the wall of the vagina, weight gain, fatigue, depression and mood swings and foggy thinking and loss of sex drive. Hormone replacement therapy means replacing the hormones which are no longer being produced to the same degree by the body. The decision regarding whether to take estrogen depends on several factors including a woman's risk for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis, as well as the severity of her menopausal symptoms. Studies indicate that estrogen helps to reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It can also slow bone loss thereby minimizing fractures associated with osteoporosis, and improve cholesterol levels. Women who take estrogen appear to be at lower risk for Alzheimer's disease, colon cancer, and macular degeneration. Estrogen may also prevent heart disease in women who have never had the condition, but women who already have heart disease do not appear to share that benefit. Do not be confused with ERT (estrogen therapy) and HRT ( which is a COMBINATION of estrogen PLUS progestin) Recent findings from several large studies, particularly the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), have shown that women taking estrogen plus progestin have a slightly increased risk of heart attack, stroke, embolism, and breast cancer (see first link below). As a result, combination hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is only recommended for short-term relief of menopause symptoms. Exercise and good eating habits can be beneficial for menopausal weight gain. 

There's no magic formula for avoiding weight gain as you get older. The strategies for maintaining a healthy weight at any age remain the same: Watch what you eat and get moving. The most effective approach to reversing weight gain after menopause includes a combination of the following: Increase your physical activity, Reduce calories and Decrease dietary fat. - 1) Increase your physical activity: Aerobic exercise boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat. Strength training exercises increase muscle mass, boost your metabolism and strengthen your bones. You can become more physically active even without starting a formal exercise program. Just spend more time doing the things you love that also get you moving. Do more gardening and dancing. Take longer walks or try out a bike. Make it your goal to be active for a total of 30 minutes or more a day on most days. Increased physical activity, including strength training, may be the single most important factor for maintaining a healthy body composition - more lean muscle mass and less body fat - as you get older. - 2) Reduce calories. Pay attention to the foods you're eating and slightly reduce the amount of calories you consume each day. By choosing a varied diet composed mainly of fruits and vegetables, you can safely cut back on calories and lose weight. Be careful not to cut back too drastically on calorie intake, or your body will respond by conserving energy, making extra pounds harder to shed. Because your metabolism slows as you get older, you need about 200 fewer calories a day to maintain your weight as you get into your mid- to late 40s. This shouldn't be a problem if you eat only when hungry and only enough to satisfy your hunger.- 3) Decrease dietary fat. Eating large amounts of high-fat foods adds excess calories, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. Limit fat to 20 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories. Emphasize fats from healthier sources, such as nuts and olive, canola and peanut oils. The links below may be of further help to you. 

Related Links

Thyroid gland tests
The thyroid and weight gain
Menopausal symptoms - Exercise remedy for weight gain
Menopause and weight gain
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) - Now What to Do?

Created on: 04/16/2010
Reviewed on: 04/16/2010

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)
Anonymous wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

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Anonymous wrote 2 years 14 weeks ago

Weight Gain and Menopause...Almost 90% of menopausal women gain weight between the 40 and 55 years old. Menopausal weight gain is a common sign of imbalanced hormones during the menopause

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

The thyroid gland produces hormones that influence our metabolic processes so weight gain is 'normal' but there are several things to do to lose weight with thyroid problem

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

right, weight gain and menopause go together. It's estimated that most women will gain a pound a year during this time.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Menopause and weight gain are closely related. Weight gain is natural for women during perimenopause or going through menopause. The weight gain may be different for each women. But food carving is one of the main cause for the increase in weight during menopause

Anonymous wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I have a question. Please help me. I am 26yrs old and weigh 145 pounds. I have thyroid for last 3 yrs. Its getting really difficult for me 2 loose weight. I am very careful about my diet and do regular exercises. I also take thyroxine sodium tablets 100mg every day in the morning.
Please help me. wat shd I do to loose weight ? i feel heavy and bloated all the time